But consuming the right nutrients before you exercise is just as important as what you eat after. Eating and exercise go hand in hand. When and what you eat can be important to how you feel when you exercise, whether it’s a casual workout or training for a competition.
5 Best Foods to Fuel Your Workout
5. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are good sources of alpha-linolenic acid, a plant form of omega-3 fatty acids that can help fight inflammation, a factor in muscle soreness. While not as potent as fish-based omega-3s in producing these benefits, they’re also (like exercise) good for your heart.
4. Chocolate Chips
You probably don’t need a justification to snack on a few chocolate chips or add them to an energy bar, but nonetheless, there actually are some health reasons to add them.
Pre-workout: Antioxidants in dark chocolate help prevent muscle soreness later on. One study of bikers showed dark chocolate helped reduce oxidative stress in muscles—a component of muscle soreness. Animal research suggests chocolate’s epicatechins can boost leg strength and endurance capacity.
3. Dried Blueberries
Dried blueberries are a tasty and antioxidant-rich alternative to raisins. Pre-workout: The easily digested carbohydrates in blueberries fuel muscles, plus a little fiber provides staying power.
Post-workout: Polyphenolic compounds in blueberries may help combat oxidative stress in muscles—potentially preventing soreness, inflammation
Oats are rich in carbohydrates, the fuel your muscles prefer. Pre-workout: Fiber-rich oats supply sustained energy.
Post-workout: Provide a healthy amount of carbs to replenish depleted glycogen stores.
The most protein-rich nut of them all gives you quality protein, which is important for muscle building. Pre-workout: A little protein staves off hunger without overtaxing digestion. Post-workout: Protein helps repair muscles and stokes your body’s muscle-building machinery—especially when consumed within a half hour after exercising.